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"A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam."
- Frederik Pohl

Observation Room Recreation Center  
  A vast internal space in a space station, often used for exercise and amusement.  

The discipline needed on a space station was extreme, so recreation spaces were important.

The observation-room was vast. Two hundred feet across and high, and six hundred feet wide, and practically without a ceiling. All four walls were floor. Here was the center of the Power Planet. Here were the largest of all the ports which look out upon the appalling emptiness which surrounds it. Here, too, were the doors into the needle-like spires which show on all the pictures of the Power Planet — those two-thousand-foot shafts which jut out from its exact center. From the shaft on the sunward side, one may look out over the whole of the bright-side disk. And from the spire on the shadow side one sees exactly nothing, unless the monster searchlights are turned on. They will illuminate the dark side to its farthest edge, though, and are used in case of needed repairs to the outer skin. From the dark-side spire the only thing which shows that the blackness of the disk is not nothingness itself is that faintly luminous streak of pure Power, a hundred yards across, which goes stabbing across illimitable space to the spinning Earth, far-distant...

A visiphone record was going on one of the visiphonographs. A girl’s face, quite incredibly realistic in its stereoscopic projection, looked flirtatiously out at emptiness as she sang. . . . And nearly buckled against the wall was that contrivance little Skeptsky liked to fool with, here in the center of the disk where even artificial gravity was negligible — little compressed-air tanks that he strapped to his shoulders, with rocket-nozzles attached. He could fly lightly all about the place, and did, explaining blandly that he was practising at being an angel.

It was horribly lonely in the vast open space that was supposed to be a recreation-center and observatory, where weight was non-existent.

Technovelgy from The Power Planet, by Murray Leinster.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

George O. Smith describes a similar space in the center of the Venus Equilateral Relay Station in his 1942 story QRM: Interplanetary:

Channing looked up the little flight of stairs that led to the innermost level. He winked at Arden and jumped. He passed up through the opening easily. “Jump,” he commanded. “Don’t use the stairs!”

(Center space from 'QRM: Interplanetary' by George O. Smith)

Arden jumped. She sailed upward, and as she passed through the opening, Channing caught her by one arm and stopped her flight. “At that speed you’d go right on across,” he said.

She looked up, and there about two hundred feet overhead she could see the opposite wall.

Channing snapped on the lights. They were in a room two hundred feet in diameter and three hundred feet long. “We’re at the center of the station,” Channing informed her. “Beyond that bulkhead is the air lock. On the other side of the other bulkhead, we have the air plants, the storage spaces, and several cubic inches of machinery.”

“Inches?” asked Arden. Then she saw that he was fooling.

“Come on,” he said. He took her by the hand and with a kick he propelled himself along on a long, curving course to the opposite side of the inner cylinder. He gained the opposite bulkhead as well.

“Now, that’s what I call traveling,” said Arden. “But my tummy goes whoosh, whoosh, every time we cross the center.

Compare to the more sophisticated amusements available in the Star Trek: The Next Generation recreation room holodeck.

RF Starzl describes a somewhat more utilitarian space in Hornets of Space (1930):

The rotation of the ship on its longitudinal axis (strangely reminiscent of those ancient fighting shells) served in lieu of gravity to hold objects to the floor...

There were hundreds of passengers walking around between the tall columns of satin-finished metal that radiated like the spokes of a wheel from the central core. They looked like flies walking inside the rim of a wheel two hundred feet in diameter.

Compare to the battleroom from Ender's Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Power Planet
  More Ideas and Technology by Murray Leinster
  Tech news articles related to The Power Planet
  Tech news articles related to works by Murray Leinster

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